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What is User Generated Content?

What is user generated content (UGC)? User generated content comes as text, photo, or video content from your clients or customers. The kind you should get excited about is positive, since you can use it in your marketing. Of course, you should pay attention to anything negative for improvement opportunities.

Why do you care about UGC? Over 2/3 of consumers trust UGC more than branded company content. But you can’t control UGC, so you just have to keep your ear to the ground. 

This is a two part series, so be sure to tune into tomorrow’s episode as well!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re watching/listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your Monday through Friday, 10-minute- shot of business knowledge. 

Today we’re going to talk about user generated content (UGC). So, what is user generated content? It could be photos, videos, or text posts of a customer talking about your product/service. 

You’ve probably seen these before. We see them all the time on Facebook and  Instagram. I can record myself saying “I just got this Google Pixel 2, and I love it so much! It’s way better than any other phone that I’ve ever had!” And if you’re in the market for a new phone, you should consider getting a Google.” That’s just me saying it as your friend, unsponsored.

Maybe if you hadn’t considered getting a Google phone before, you would consider it now. You know that I really enjoy having awesome technology at my disposal and you trust my review. So even if you choose not to buy it in the end, I prompted you to research it, and you may become a customer at some point in the future. 

Consumers Trust User Generated Content

User generated content is content that companies just can’t buy. And it’s so critical because studies show that over ⅔ of consumers trust UGC over branded consumer content, or branded content from companies. 

This also applies to service-based businesses. If somebody writes a post on Instagram or Linkedin about your services and how great they were, that’s user generated content too.

So just because you don’t sell a physical product, it doesn’t mean that you can’t also benefit from user generated content. Like I said, it’s valuable because over 66% of consumers trust UGC over branded company content. 

The Importance of Authenticity

Another important thing to note is that user generated content that’s created on a cell phone or smartphone, the vertical image is considered more authentic by consumers as well. Landscape photography (the longer, wider version of the photograph) may not actually be to your benefit because it doesn’t look like it was taken on a smartphone. 

In my estimation, the reason why that authenticity is so obvious with vertical images is that for most of us who have a smartphone, we’re typically not too far away from it. So when you or a consumer posts UGC, it helps other people feel like they’re in the moment and part of the experience. And that is exactly what it is. It’s just that person sharing their experience.


Customer Engagement Promotes UGC

We know that either someone really hates something, or they really love it, in order to leave a review. The masses in the middle, who are often just content, won’t leave a review either way. Even if they’re only mildly upset or mildly pleased, they won’t leave reviews. 

So, positive UGC is definitely something you want to keep an eye out for. You won’t see it if all you do is schedule posts to your social media and you never actually check those channels. 

I have people that I’ve followed in the past, especially on Linkedin, whose posts I’d comment and try to engage with to try to help them out too. The reason is that, if I’m talking and I’m asking questions, it gives them an opportunity to show off their expertise. An answer never came.

I realized it was because they only scheduled their posts, and they never actually checked LinkedIn. So I actually unconnected with that person. But again, it was kind of a missed opportunity for them. 

Reach Out Before You Share

One of the rules of etiquette that not a lot of companies follow when using UGC in their own strategy, is that they don’t reach out before sharing. 

Reaching out is actually something I really advise you do. Why wouldn’t you reach out to customers who are obviously ecstatic about your product or service? You’re missing an opportunity to directly engage with a happy customer and get feedback. 

Utilize These Customers’ Feedback

If the person’s willing to post how great your business is onto their social media channels, why not send a message and say “Hey, we saw that you were talking about X product/service, and we were so happy that you were thrilled. We wanted to reshare it on our social media channels. Is that okay?” The customer more than likely is going to say yes, and then you continue that conversation with thinks like:

  • What they liked about the product specifically
  • Ask them about their buyer’s journey
  • How they heard about you
  • What made them decide to choose you

Because they’re already willing to share on social media, they’re more than likely going to be willing to answer those questions. While not empirical data, that is valuable information that you can use as you make refinements to your website, and further hone your buyers’ personas. 

Discover New, Thriving Platforms

This could also alert you to a channel of referral that you weren’t aware of. Perhaps there’s a subreddit where somebody posted about your company, and that’s how that person found your company. Reddit might have never even been a thing that you opened before, but now you know about it because you actually asked the customer. 

So don’t miss out on these valuable market research opportunities. Just because you’ve got a successful product/service doesn’t mean that the market research stops. If you want to stay successful, then you need to keep researching and figuring out what your target market loves about your products and services. 

Responsiveness Inspires Appreciation from Clients

On top of all of that, engagement makes your customers and your clients feel really appreciated and heard in the future. If they do have a problem, it’s more likely that they would probably just respond to that message and say “Hey, this happened. Is there any way you can help me?” 

I actually had that experience with Naked Wines. I order my wine from them and it’s fantastic. However, the first time I got to interact with them directly was not on social media. I was calling their service desk because FedEx had signed for my wine package themselves and left it upside-down on my porch, in the rain, which you’re not allowed to do.

There are many things wrong with that, but it wasn’t their [NakedWines] fault. I was just calling to let them know that their carrier made several mistakes. They were profusely apologetic and I advised them to request something from the carrier in return. They also gave me a $25 credit for my trouble.

I can’t say enough good things about them, especially because of how they reacted in a time when I could’ve been a really upset customer and actually blamed them for what happened. Even though I was very calm, they were extremely apologetic and made me feel like a valued customer. 

Influencer Content Is Not User Generated Content

One last note: don’t confuse influencer content with UGC. Influencer content is purchased. You solicit an influencer to post about your company. This is not the same. Most people, while they do follow influencers, do know that it’s an influencer post.

Not to mention that influencers are starting to be regulated, and there are certain things they have to put in their post to indicate that it is a paid sponsorship. That’s not the same as UGC. UGC is earned. It’s not paid. It’s unsolicited. When you open up a social media platform, it should be a surprise. You didn’t even know it was going to be there. It’s genuine and authentic. 

Influencer posts are often very scripted or, with professional photography, and they don’t come off as authentic. This is especially true for major influencers, but micro-influencers might still have that authentic UGC feel to them. 

But again, even if you engage with micro influencers, do not confuse influence with UGC, which you can encourage your customers to create on your behalf. They may use a certain hashtag or something, but it’s always a surprise. You’re never going to know when it happens, or at least you shouldn’t. 

All right, so that’s been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. Thank you for joining me. Our premiere guest is a for season 2. She’s a PR professional, and we were so excited that she agreed to be on The Defiant Business Podcast . You will learn a little bit more about her in the upcoming episodes of this show. Thank you so much for joining me.